Welcome to our second week of looking closely at math workshop. Get more details about my math workshop book study here.
Deep Versus Shallow Math
In this week's reading, I was struck by the difference between deep and shallow math. Here are some characteristics of each type of math.
- Memorizing algorithms
- Applying an algorithm (usually a word problem found on the bottom of a page full of practice for that algorithm.
- Hunt & copy exercises
- Plug and chug numbers
- Not considering what the numbers mean
- About covering the content
- Teacher gives out knowledge
- Engaging, exciting, exhausting & inspiring
- Pushes learners out of their comfort zone
- Mental models
- An understanding of a concept that can be built upon later
- Challenging tasks
- Students wrestling to make sense
- Content understanding
- Teacher as a facilitator of learning
When I was in elementary and middle school 99% of the math I did would be classified as shallow math. I was the queen of the plug and chug. I thrived on algorithms and hated "word problems". When I was in high school, it was more of the same until I got to Algebra 2 and was faced with new and challenging problems that no one had "taught" me how to solve. This took my enthusiasm for and understanding of math to an entirely new level. Math class became exciting and invigorating and for the first time I got to invent my own strategies for solving problems and compare them to my classmates. It was such a dramatic and marked change for me that it really is what sparked my interest in becoming a teacher.
Now when I teach math, I try my best to keep most of what I do with my students at the deep level. Math workshop provides me with a vehicle for giving kids support solving challenging tasks.
Your turn! Can you think of anything that is missing from these lists of shallow and deep math? Where did most of your own learning take place? Please respond in the comments below!
Come back next week for part 3 of our Minds on Mathematics book study!